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I’m a Practitioner

And this is why I love this word

May 5th, 2022

In Hebrew, Spanish and German (the languages in which I learned and taught Feldenkrais) we refer to a professional of the Feldenkrais Method® as a “teacher”. It makes perfect sense, because the method is a pedagogy, it creates space for learning, and we facilitate it by offering Feldenkrais “lessons”.

Photos: ©International Feldenkrais® Federation Archive, Robert Golden

In English, though, we refer to ourselves as Feldenkrais Practitioners. I have no way of translating it into any of the other languages, and I love that term. I prefer to think of myself as a practitioner rather than a teacher. Let me tell you why.

When doing Feldenkrais we are always teaching and learning at the same time. If I have to teach a class in the evening, I’ll spread my mat in the morning and maybe listen to a recording from my library. I may have done that class before, it will probably be familiar, but I don’t just go through the motions to remember the steps and prepare for my evening class. I actually do the class. I’m a student. I’m a beginner again. I explore myself in movement; I’m curious and I find out new things. I don’t rehearse, I am in practice. I am being a practitioner.

When giving a class, it is never about me teaching you something I know and you don’t. It’s not about transmitting information. We are both in a sacred space of practice.

When I give an individual session - Functional Integration® as we call it - I take the lesson with you. My trainer Anat Baniel described it as two nervous systems becoming one.

Anat told us in the training that she was offered a professional hazard insurance and declined. She said that she comes out of a lesson better than when she started it. She is not in danger of burnout, she is in practice. While being attentive to her client she is also attentive to herself. If she’s uncomfortable, that’s what she transmits, so she makes sure to be relaxed and comfortable. She must be perfectly aligned with the client in everything she does. That’s how a lesson works. We don’t teach; we create a practice space. As a result, we improve together with the client.

Meditation is often referred to as practice. When you meditate regularly, you’re a practitioner. It is something you are, not just an activity. It defines an attitude, a purpose and a mission, not an occupation.

Yes, I’m a teacher when I give a class. I have taken the professional training and I am certified to teach the method. But I’m a practitioner not just when I give a class. I’m a practitioner every moment of the day, because I have a living practice. I try to apply the skill of awareness to everything I do, to be aware of myself in motion many times during the day. I am on a path of growth and improvement, and I bring my mind back on track again and again, so that I don't stray from that path.

I have a living practice. I am always a practitioner.

That’s why I love thinking of myself as a practitioner rather than a teacher. It gives the right colour to what I do and to how I wish to lead my life. And I love the English language for its richness and for these fine distinctions.

What is your practice? Are you a practitioner too?

Michael Landau

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Check out Persistent Growth: a living daily practice that keeps you on a path of growth and learning.

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